Temporal trends in equine sperm progressive motility: a systematic review and meta-regression

Imogen Thea Harris, Christy Maddock, Mark Farnworth, Kathryn Nankervis, Jodie Perrett, Alison Z Pyatt, Rebecca N Blanchard*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

IN BRIEF: Adverse trends in reproductive function are a concern in humans, companion, livestock, and wildlife species. This study indicates that equine populations are at risk of a comparable decline in sperm progressive motility.

ABSTRACT: There is increasing evidence reporting geographically sensitive adverse trends in human semen quality, with parallel trends observed in the dog sentinel. Despite significant economic and welfare complications associated with poor testicular function, trends in current equine populations are undetermined. Given the predictive value of sperm progressive motility (PMOT) in male factor infertility and fertilisation potential, research determining trends in this parameter is warranted. This research analysed trends in stallion sperm PMOT through systematic review and meta-regression. Using a comprehensive search strategy, Scopus, Embase (Ovid), Medline (Ovid), and VetMed (CAB direct) were scoped for eligible data. Using best practices, 230 meta-data points from 229 articles published from 1991 to 2021 were collated for meta-regression analysis. Sperm PMOT declined significantly between 1984 and 2019 (simple linear regression: b -0.340, P = 0.017; meta-regression: b -0.610, P ≤ 0.001). Overall and yearly PMOT declines were predicted at 33.51 and 0.96%, respectively (1984: 63.69 ± 5.07%; 2019: 42.35 ± 3.69%). Trends remained consistent irrespective of sensitivity analyses. Yearly and overall declines were stronger in western (yearly: 0.75%, overall: 26.29%) compared to non-western (yearly: 0.46%, overall: 10.65%) populations. Adverse trends contribute vital data to the debate surrounding declining semen quality, supporting the use of equines as novel comparative models for human reproduction. Results could have significant economic, health, and welfare consequences for equine breeding sectors. A comparable decline in human, dog, and horse sperm quality is indicative of a common environmental aetiology, indicating the need for a holistic One Health approach in determining causes and developing preventative strategies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)M1-M10
Number of pages10
Issue number6
Early online date1 Apr 2023
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2023

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • Sperm motility
  • Meta-analysis
  • Systematic review
  • Animal Reproduction
  • Environmental effects


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